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Modi’s Pakistan visit ‘step in right direction’: J&K CM

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Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed has described Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan as a “right step in the right direction”.

“It is the right step in the right direction. The goodwill gesture by Modi will definitely break the ice in the relations between the two neighbours, a process started by the visit of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Pakistan,” the chief minister said late on Friday.

Former chief minister and president of the National Conference (NC) Omar Abdullah also reacted to the development saying, “The re-engagement with Pakistan is a good step and a very welcome development. However, more than grand gestures, we need consistency”.

Senior separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani said he was always in the favour of good relations between the two countries, but added the same should happen by resolving the Kashmir issue.

“I am always in favour of good relations between India and Pakistan, but this can only happen if the human problem of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is resolved,” Geelani told reporters.

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Kashmir’s chief cleric and chairman of moderate group of separatist Hurriyat Conference was the first among the separatists to welcome the gesture.

“It is a positive move, a good step and we should welcome easing of tensions between the two countries, but the basic issue of Kashmir will have to be resolved if the two countries really want to move ahead in good neighbourly relations”, the Mirwaiz told some local reporters.

Muhammad Yasin Malik, chairman of the Pro-Azadi Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has reacted cautiously to the development.

“Nobody wants to oppose peace between India and Pakistan…We welcome the gesture, but assert that such goodwill gestures would only remain cosmetic as long as the people of Jammu and Kashmir divided between India and Pakistan continue to stew in their own soup”, Malik said.

People in the state, however, see a ray of hope in this unexpected gesture by Modi.

“He has pleasantly surprised all of us. We have always believed Modi to be a right wing politician in India. He has done something no other Indian prime minister ever did in the past,” Abid Wani, 48, said here.

Several others also spelt a similar view and suggested more such actions be taken in order to ensure a cordial relationship between the two countries.

“Their anger may cost business to big people, but it costs lives to Kashmiris. I hope and pray the extra mile Modi has walked gets the needed response from Pakistan so that the future of our children is secured”, Professor Muzaffar Ahmad, 55, said.

Modi on Friday surprised everyone with his decision to visit Lahore to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his way back from Kabul. Modi visited the ancestral home of Sharif and held talks with him.

India

COVID-19: 8 more positive cases in Ahmedabad

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Coronavirus Symtoms

Gandhinagar, April 1 (IANS) Eight new coronavirus positive cases were reported in Gujarat on Wednesday, all of them in state’s financial capital Ahmedabad. Till now, 82 active positive cases are present in Gujarat, with six deaths due to corona outbreak.

Jayanti Ravi, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, said: “Eight new cases have been found in Ahmedabad. Before the central government declared Ahmedabad as a hotspot we had declared Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot and Gandhinagar as such for the outbreak.”

“These eight include male (52) with travel history to Indore, male (18) also with travel history to Indore, female (45) with interstate travel history, and a female (65) who got infected locally. They have been admitted in Ahmedabad Civil hospital.

“A male (68) with interstate travel history, male (54) with international travel history and a female (58) infected locally have been admitted in Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (SVP) Hospital. Another male (67) who got infected locally has been admitted in the Sola Civil Hospital,” added Ravi.

“Out of total 82 positive cases, the conditions of 66 is stable, six have been discharged, while condition of three is critical and are on ventilator,” added Ravi.

The number of persons under quarantine is 19,206, including 18,487 at home and 743 in government institutes, and 253 in private facilities. As many as 418 FIR have been filed against persons violating the quarantine conditions.

“We have tested 1,586 samples, of which 1,501 were negative, 82 positive and results of three are pending,” added Ravi.

This takes the total Corona positive cases in the state to 82, excluding 6 deaths. The highest number of 31 cases is in Ahmedabad, followed by 11 in Gandhinagar, 10 each in Surat and Rajkot, nine in Vadodara, six in Bhavnagar, two in Gir-Somnath and one each in Porbandar, Mahesana and Kutch.

Out of the 82 positive cases, 33 have foreign travel history, eight inter-state tavel and 41 with locally transmitted disease.

Among the six victims in Gujarat is a 67-year-old male from Surat with co-morbid conditions. An 85-year-old female from Ahmedabad died on Wednesday due to co-morbid conditions. A 70- year-old male from Bhavnagar with travel history to Delhi succumbed on Thursday. Three more deaths were reported on Saturday, Sunday and Monday — a male (47) and female (46) from Ahmedabad and a female (45) from Jesar block in Bhavnagar respectively.

All deceased were suffering from co-morbid conditions like diabetes, hypertension, cardiac ailments and other several complications.

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Kerala moots salary challenge, ministers to give Rs 1 lakh each

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Pinarayi Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram, April 1 (IANS) The Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet that met here on Wednesday has given the in-principle clearance to have a salary challenge from all state government employees to collect funds to handle the various activities of Covid-19 of the Kerala government.

All state government employees have to contribute one month’s salary to the CM Distress Relief Fund and it could be done in instalments also.

Kerala has at present 215 positive coronavirus positive cases, with over 1.60 lakh people under observation at homes and hospitals.

As a first step the entire cabinet decided that each one of them will contribute Rs one lakh each and it has already been done by Vijayan.

On Tuesday, Vijayan held talks with a section of the employee’s representatives and it has been more or less agreed upon, even as talks have to take place with a few other organisations.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala reacting to the salary challenge told the media that they have no issues with this.

“We have the same stand that we took when such a challenge was announced in 2018, when floods ravaged the state. We strongly demanded then that, it should not be put into the CMDRF, instead it should be in a separate account. It was not done and now what we hear is that at Kochi a CPI-M worker got Rs one million and the report of another fraud of Rs five million also has surfaced. Such things should not happen,” said Chennithala.

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Prez,PM greet people of Odisha on Utkala Dibasa

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PM Modi at UNGA

Bhubaneswar, April 1 (IANS) President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday greeted the people of Odisha on the occasion of Utkala Dibasa.

The President wished for Odisha’s bright future and prosperity.

Modi tweeted, “Utkala Dibasa greetings to my sisters and brothers of Odisha. Praying for Odisha’s constant progress and prosperity in the times to come.”

Besides, Odisha Governor Prof Ganeshi Lal, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wished the people on this occasion.

Prof Lal asked the people to pledge to transform Odisha into a prosperous and developed state and participate in the fight against coronavirus outbreak.

The Chief Minister remembered the legendary leaders who fulfilled the dream of formation of a separate Odisha state.

“I believe, with your support, we will emerge victorious in our ongoing fight against coronavirus,” said Patnaik.

Notably, Utkala Dibasa is celebrated every year to commemorate the formation of the state on linguistic basis on April 1, 1936.

The state government has decided not to organise any official function on the occasion due to lockdown to combat coronavirus outbreak.

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